I stare at the cover, and only its art already suggests a return to the Casus Luciferi era. And a few seconds into the first song, Nuclear Alchemist, my intuitions are confirmed.
From there on, Watain offers in roughly half an hour (which has felt too short to me, to be honest) a wide variety of musical elements, all of them though not far away from the black metal core of their music. For example, songs like Sacred Damnation sound more like the Sworn to the Dark album, with its more bluesy flow and rhythm at times, but still preserves the pitch black darkness of a starless night that is every Watain song. Other musical dimensions such as very soft background choirs in this song or more “melodic” (melodic as opposite of purely harmonic, yet inside of the typical atonality) guitar lines in Furor Diabolicus are appreciated.
Others, like A Throne Below, remind me more of Waters of Ain, as their attempts at melody in the guitars and stepping out of fundamentals in the bass make these lines sound like a tad of colour in the immense grey sea of Watain compositions. No doubt a majestic piece. And they’re not forgetful of the origins of the msic they play. As Alvaro Lillo once said, they are a rock and roll soul in a black metal outfit, which can be perfectly noticed in the rhythm of the lyrics in Furor Diabolicus or the general atmosphere of Ultra (Pandemoniac). The later starts as a standard, blast-beating black metal song and turns at the beginning of the verse a black and roll piece (with more black than roll though).
What has been permanent in all Watain albums (what’s more, in my opinion, it has evolved in a mesmerizing way), is the grandiloquent lyrical content, full of big, epic, dark words all linked in a smooth yet powerful way, giving as result beautiful poems for black metal songs. This is especially the case of Teufelreich, which has left me shivering, or Towards the Sanctuary. All in all, the songs in this album make a perfect ode to Satan, fire and Freedom/Free Will.
After a more or less detailed analysis, if I had to mention what I liked most, I’d surely go for the lyrics and some of the instrumental lines (I haven’t mentioned the drum lines yet and they are absolutely delightful and full of little details); and if I had to mention a bad aspect, it would be the uniformity of the songs in both structure and length. I am more keen on a huge variety of structures, lengths, elements... but the great quality material they deliver is a more than perfect compensation for that.
So definitely, Trident Wolf Eclipse is a clear return to their roots, yet with a thicker and richer sound, and the experience that three more albums, and some years in the music scene give. In any case, pretty far from The Wild Hunt. It is generally an enjoyable piece which will probably be of the taste of those who followed Watain from the very beginning and detractors of their previous album, as well as new generations of fans.